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Instead of lamenting over Sunday night's AFC title game loss to the Chiefs, the Cincinnati Bengals are looking toward the 2023 season and the possibilities that lie ahead. The first step in that process is hammering out a contract extension for Joe Burrow, the quarterback who has played a major role in the franchise's success over the past two years. 

Bengals coach Zac Taylor said on Monday that Burrow's extension talk "starts now, internally." Burrow has one year remaining on his rookie contract that will carry an $11.5M cap hit in 2023. He's set to become a free agent in 2025, but is expected to receive a long-term extension before the start of the 2023 season. 

Taylor wouldn't get into the specifics regarding Burrow's specific monetary value to the Bengals, who have won as many playoff games with Burrow (five) over the past two years as they did during the franchise's previous 53 seasons. 

"Fortunately, I don't have to put that on paper, in terms of what that is," Taylor said, via Pro Football Talk. "That's just the business we're in right now. He's everything we want to be about. He's a hard worker. He cares about his teammates. He cares about where he's from — Ohio. This fanbase, I think he represents us the right way.

"And so, we take a lot of pride in having Joe Burrow as our quarterback."

The 2022 season was a highly successful one for Burrow, who was selected to his first Pro Bowl after helping the Bengals match the franchise record of 12 regular-season wins. He helped the Bengals win 10 consecutive games after the team slogged to a 4-4 start. Burrow is one of five finalists for this year's MVP award. 

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Prior to the start of the playoffs, Burrow was open about his desire to play long term for the Bengals, who selected him with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. An Ohio native, Burrow played college football at nearby Ohio State before winning the Heisman Trophy and a national title at LSU. 

"My plan is to be here my whole career," Burrow said during an interview with NBC Sports' Maria Taylor. "Hopefully, Zac (Taylor) is here my whole career, and hopefully a lot of our guys are around for as long as my career as they can be. 

"I have a lot of confidence in the front office doing their jobs in the offseason. We've drafted well. We've brought in great free agents. We've claimed guys off waivers that have really made an impact on our team. I think we have one of the best front offices in the league. 

"Zac, in my opinion, is the best coach in the league. So that gives me a lot of confidence to go out there and say that."

Bengals owner Mike Brown, when recently asked on Burrow's future with the franchise, made it clear that the franchise's primary objective this offseason is coming to terms with their quarterback on a long-term deal. 

"He's going to have a long career," Brown told the team's radio broadcast during Super Wild Card Weekend, per ESPN. "We certainly want it to be here. I think his window will extend over his whole career. But there is the fact that when you don't have to pay the quarterback some extraordinary amount, that leaves room to pay other players more and, therefore, you can keep more players that are good players."

Burrow will certainly be compensated as one of the NFL's best quarterbacks, but it appears that he will do his part in making sure the Bengals can keep as much as their core together as possible. He will likely mimic the Tom Brady approach to contacts, an approach that has helped Brady become the most successful player in league history. 

Along with Burrow, the Bengals' intent is to keep their receiving corps in the fold for the foreseeable future. That includes second-year phenom Ja'Marr Chase and third-year veteran Tee Higgins. The Bengals will likely be parting ways with several notable soon-to-be free agents this offseason that include linebacker Germaine Pratt and safety Jessie Bates III

Bates, who has played an integral role in the franchise's turnaround, expressed his desire to remain in Cincinnati as the Bengals cleaned out their lockers on Monday. He stated, however, that he cannot accept a hometown discount after playing this past season on the franchise tag. Bates played this year after skipping training camp after the two sides could not agree on a long-term deal. 

"I could have easily went to a different route, been a cancer," Bates said on the 2022 season, via The Cincinnati Enquirer. "It had a lot to do with the people in this locker room and organization. They brought me in here and helped me get through tough times. I was in shells. I would not talk to anybody at times. The brotherhood we have in here got me out of that."